Joseph Woelfl (1773–1812), a friend of the Mozart family from childhood, was one of the best-known musicians of his day: he was regarded as a rival of Beethoven in Vienna and a worthy successor to Haydn in the musical life of London. His late-Classical piano music sits between Mozart, Haydn and Clementi and looks forward to Schubert and Mendelssohn. This first-ever project to examine it in any detail hopes to rescue Woelfl’s once starry reputation from the folds of history.
Adalberto Maria Riva, piano
Piano Sonata in B minor, Op. 38 (1808)*
Piano Sonata in F major, Op. 27, No. 2 (1803)*
Catalogue No: TOCC0383EAN/UPC: 5060113443830Release Date: 01.11.2016Composer: Joseph Woelfl Artists: Adalberto Maria Riva
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Richard Wigmore :
“Writing in the booklet to this opening salvo in a projected Woelfl sonata series, Adalberto Maria Riva characterises the composer’s style as lying ‘somewhere between Clementi, Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and Schubert’, which certainly leaves the options open. … there is little Beethovenian dynamism in these essentially amiable works, even if the finale of the B minor Sonata (Op 38) begins with what sounds like a tamed rerun of the finale of Beethoven’s A minor Violin Sonata, Op 23. Clementi is evoked in some of Woelfl’s keyboard sonorities, particularly his partiality to wiry two-part counterpoint. In several movements – say, in the Adagio of the B minor Sonata – the invention sounds elegantly ‘Mozartian’, though the tunes are less distinctive and Woelfl can meander where Mozart never does. Elsewhere, Woelfl’s leisurely time frame and fondness for dipping casually into remote keys foreshadows Schubert. On a blind tasting, you might be forgiven for mistaking a songful A flat major episode in the finale of the C minor Sonata as an unknown Schubert Impromptu. … In sum, a disc of gentle pleasures that whets the appetite for future issues in Riva’s Woelfl pilgrimage.” –Gramophone, January 2017
Michael Ullman :
“So, in his youth virtually a Mozart family member, Woelfl rivaled Beethoven as a pianist and succeeded Haydn in London. … What one hears in these sonatas is a technically accomplished composer, well able to make a complicated fugue unfold naturally. …despite his technical skills, I am most taken by Woelfl’s lighter and more lyrical moments, when his ease and grace are most in evidence. Then he has a distinctive charm. Riva plays a mellow Bösendorfer on these recordings, and he plays extremely well. …many readers will want to hear this well-played recording of forgotten music.” —Fanfare Magazine, May/June 2017
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